The trajectory of Cindytalk is one of the most unusual stories in music. The band was originally a vocal duo fronted by Gordon Sharp, who also contributed vocals to a pair of This Mortal Coil albums in the mid-80s. After a run of successful albums, the band fell silent. During this time, Sharp was investigating issues of identity and sexuality; when “Transgender Warrior” appeared in 2003, he had renamed himself Cindy / Cinder; thus, Cindytalk. But more than the name had changed. The new material, culminating in a series of albums for Editions Mego, was starkly abstract and virtually vocal-free. Fan reaction was severely mixed. Some embraced the experimental sounds while others complained and left. Camouflage Heart this was not, and some would never forgive.
Sharp now continues his sonic explorations on A Life Is Everywhere. Absent from the mix are the children and piano that made 2011’s Hold Everything Dear nearly accessible. A few connections to past material remain: the digitized shoreline of “The Eighth Sea” and the cosmic meanderings of “Switched to Lunar”, from 2010’s Up Here in the Clouds, find their echoes in “To a Dying Star” and “Interruptum”, while the industrial drums of “Of Ghosts and Buildings” (from 2009’s The Crackle of My Soul) reappear on “As If We Had Once Been”. Not that Sharp is recycling his old concepts; he’s updating them for a new audience. The sea may still be the sea, but now sounds even more alien.
The manipulated chime tones of “Time to Fall” are reminiscent of Daniel Menche’s gamelan work on the recent Marriage of Metals, also on Editions Mego. These artists share a dissatisfaction with sound restriction, and seek to extract the widest array of sounds possible from every available source. The chimes are never far from the surface, but neither are the distorted drones. A hint of melody bleeds through the center of the piece like a light leakage of moisture through cheesecloth. “My Drift Is a Ghost” provides the impression of a rainstorm filled with ball bearings; one can hear every metallic bounce. The internal battle of “On a Pure Plane” implies that Sharp is still struggling with unnamed issues. The track is at war with itself, harsh bursts of percussive static seek to overwhelm the melodic underpinnings, but in the end are unable to do so. Perhaps this final track represents the true self at war with societal demands; if so, it’s an odd yet convincing triumph for the self. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 13 May 2013